A Happy Thanksgiving tasting of Chocolate and Knob Creek Bourbon

November 24, 2011

Knob Creek Whiskey and Bridge Brand Chocolates

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m struck suddenly with the desire to do a highly un-scientific tasting of Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon (both the 100 proof and the 120 proof versions) and chocolate.  Chocolate and Bourbon Whiskey, do they go together?  Ah, my friend- I have much to teach about chocolate and whiskey.  Yes, they do go together and today- as I’m about to share with you, some of the flavors I discovered completely by accident.

Maybe I was just thirsty.  And hungry.  The chocolates arrived last night and the Bourbon the other day.  I've been wanting to discover the chocolate and the Bourbon together for a few months now.  With Thanksgiving upon me, what better opportunity to taste them together. 

These chocolates were sent as a professional sample by the San Francisco Chocolate Factory/Bridge Brands Chocolate.    As I gaze over the multitude of boxes, containers, straws filled with glistening dots of chocolate.  Beautifully decorated cans filled with: Whiskey Lovers chocolates 72%, Wine Lover’s chocolates 55% and others- I gaze up at the two bottles of Knob Creek Bourbon.  These were also received as professional samples.  Thank you.

I’ve had the corks out of the Bourbon for about twenty minutes now.  The warm scent of vanilla and oak reaches out to me.  “Taste me! No me!” Pensively I pick up the 120 proof Single Barrel Reserve and let the aromatics waft up out of the iittala glass. I want this one first, the 120 Proof, but defer to the 100 Proof one first.

Swirling it around in my mouth I taste lightly toasted stone fruits immediately.  They give way to a fireball cinnamon candy that’s laced with high power chilies from an unknown source.  The fire is felt on the top of my gums and down the sides of my mouth.  But this Bourbon is not just about peaches and fire.  The char of the cask reminds me of the rums I’ve been enjoying lately.  In fact- you’d be correct if you tasted Kentucky Bourbon in your rum.  They use Bourbon casks to age rum.  Vanilla cream comes into view next. Then more flavors of baked apple pie with a bourbon cream topping- and suddenly there is chocolate.  Not just any chocolate but a 72% monster of bitter and sweet and fires going on all over the place!

These little drops of chocolate alone are almost unpalatable.  When combined with a slurp of fine Kentucky Bourbon they reveal themselves as the throes of passion.  Whiskey and chocolate?  Absolutely- they are a marriage that transcends the ages and exemplifies the fun things about drinking.  Sweet and bittersweet- like life itself.

These chocolates are packaged beautifully and the press kit is carefully produced giving full explanations of each flavor driven offering. 

I do want to share the descriptions on the intelligently designed lables printed on the sleek, modern boxes of Chocolate By Numbers:

31% Creamy

38% Dreamy

55% Smooth

58% Decadent

72% Intense


The Bourbon:


The Knob Creek 120 Proof Single Barrel Reserve is a thing of rare beauty.  It’s a given that 120 Proof is not going to hide behind the sugary oak or imitate any possibility of being anything less than explosive.  This Bourbon reminds me in many ways of Booker’s, only I know better.  I’m confident that the 120 Proof is unique to its lineage.  The reason? The Kentucky provenance of the distillery.  By the label, it reads Single Barrel.  I would assume that this hand-waxed bottle in a distinctive bottle was drawn from a single barrel and not blended.  The 120 Proof version is equally as explosive in a glass- deeper more exotic in the mid-notes and the finish.  Savored with the 72% chocolate drops- the Whiskey finish just goes on and on and on.

Taking a flavor risk, I placed a pastille (drop) of the 32% white chocolate on my tongue and let it dissolve.  The sweet of the white chocolate, melted slowly and elegantly against the remainder of the single barrel 120 Proof MONSTER of a Whiskey.

So on this day that we exemplify as our uniquely National holiday named Thanksgiving, let me please give thanks to my friends from the past and from the present- from the future as well.  We connected in many ways- through Facebook, Twitter and in sometimes, even in person.  I say Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

 I wish you were here with me tasting these bottles of liquid sunshine and letting perfect drops of very exotic, very delicious chocolate from San Francisco as it dissolves on your palates. 

As they are doing on mine right this second, I hope you can try some and enjoy my tasting notes yourself.  Cheers, wb




Tasting notes on the Bourbon:

Knob Creek 9 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon- 100 Proof

Caramelized peaches, Red Hot candy, Sweet Oak, Charred caramel, Oatcakes slathered with sweet Irish butter and thick, orange marmalade. Would make a marvelous mint julep in a sterling silver julep cup (copper core) with the last of the summer mint.  Or you could serve this historic Bourbon alone without ice in a favorite glass. Just sprinkle a bit of branch over the top.

I’ve always loved Knob Creek.  It pops up at good times and not so good times in my life. Always lifting my liquid driven memories to an even keel.  Every sip that I take of Knob Creek reminds me of something, sometime.. Somewhere.  Wherever that may be.  I am lucky to be in the correct place in the universe to be able to share my thoughts with you about Knob Creek and memory. 


Knob Creek 9 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon- Single Barrel Reserve- 120 Proof

Oh yeah.  This is the real thing.  I expect to see this served from a cut crystal decanter into a suitable rocks glass.  I found that this Bourbon explodes from the glass in a symphony of sweet stone fruits laced with fire.  Suddenly I taste muddled apples then the peppery nosed Whiskey Barrel Bitters reveal themselves and then fade.  There is the ever-present fire of the alcohol.  It just coats and puts you in a serious haze.  This Bourbon on a hot day with branch-water and mint would be deadly serious stuff.   Today on Thanksgiving it makes me hunger for a turkey leg cooked all day, low and slow with shallot, garlic, carrots, celery and parsnips. Of course a generous splash of this wildly expressive Bourbon for the cook and the pot.

Happy Thanksgiving all!